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The Philadelphia Phillies have ousted Gabe Kapler as their manager after just two seasons. Where did it all go wrong and where does the team go from here?
When Gabe Kapler took the reigns as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, he faced a frustrated yet hungry fanbase and inherited a young roster with plenty of potential.

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However, he failed to develop promising players like Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez. He struggled to control a clubhouse full of underachieving stars. He made endless mind-boggling managerial decisions that left him to be consumed by the Philadelphia media.

Initially, there was reason to be excited about Kapler. He was a young, fresh new face at the head of an organization that had a reputation for promoting from within.

He brought an unconventional, analytical perspective over from his time as the Director of Player Development with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After years of disappointment in Philadelphia, the Phillies front office was eager to give him the keys to the clubhouse.

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In this decade, the Philadelphia Phillies have been trying to regain the success they found in the second half of the 2000s. They won five straight NL East titles from 2007-2011, including two NL pennants and a World Series title in 2008.

Since 2011, however, they have let each of their division rivals surpass them except for the Marlins.

It looked as if the Phillies’ luck was about to change in 2018. After two unsuccessful hirings from within the organization in Ryne Sandberg and Pete Mackanin, the Phillies finally outsourced and hired Kapler as their manager in the 2017 offseason.

With high-profile free agent signings like former NL Cy Young Jake Arrieta and first baseman Carlos Santana, Kapler’s team looked to contend right away.

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When he was introduced as Philadelphia Phillies manager in 2017, Gabe Kapler said his goal was to bring a World Series title to team owner John Middleton.

After two seasons without a playoff berth, the Phillies on Thursday fired Kapler, whose team (81-81) underachieved even with the addition of big-money free agent Bryce Harper and whose nontraditional, analytical style irritated many of the franchise’s passionate fans.

“Several years ago, I promised our loyal fans that I would do everything in my power to bring a world championship team to our city,” Middleton said in a statement. “I will never waver from that commitment. … I have decided that some changes are necessary to achieve our ultimate objective. Consequently, we will replace our manager.

“I am indebted to Gabe for the steadfast effort, energy and enthusiasm that he brought to our club, and we are unquestionably a better team and organization as a result of his contributions.”

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Kapler is the third consecutive Phillies manager to be fired after no more than two full seasons, joining Pete Mackanin and Ryne Sandberg. Middleton said general manager Matt Klentak will lead the team’s search for a new manager.

The team also announced that pitching coach Chris Young, head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and assistant athletic trainer Chris Mudd will not return. Hitting coach Charlie Manuel will return to his role as a senior adviser. The new manager will inherit the remainder of the coaching staff.

The Phillies have had internal conversations about Buck Showalter and Joe Girardi, among others, as potential replacements for Kapler, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney. Some executives have speculated that former Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon could also be a candidate, according to Olney.

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Showalter used to work under Phillies president Andy MacPhail and with Klentak when all were with the Baltimore Orioles.

The Phillies are the eighth team seeking a new manager this offseason, joining the Angels, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Padres, Pirates and Royals.

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“I have tremendous respect for this organization, this franchise and this city,” Kapler said in a statement. “We came into 2019 with very high hopes. We fell short of those, and that responsibility lies with me. The next Phillies manager will inherit a team of talented, dedicated and committed players. There has been nothing more fulfilling in my professional career than the opportunity to work with the players on this team.

“… As I move on, I know that this organization is in a great spot and will see a lot of success going forward. My hope is that I helped contribute to a developing culture in the organization that flourishes in the years to come.”

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Rival executives have wondered if Kapler might emerge as a managerial candidate with the Giants because of his ties with San Francisco’s Farhan Zaidi, according to Olney. Zaidi, the Giants’ head of baseball operations, used to work with Kapler in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office.

Philly took a gamble when it made Kapler the 54th manager in team history in November 2017, hoping a former big leaguer short on managerial experience — he previously had managed only one season in the minors (2007) — could lead the Phillies back to October baseball for the first time since 2011.

But the Kapler era in Philadelphia never took off.

In his first game, the Atlanta Braves rallied from a five-run deficit, winning on a three-run homer in the ninth inning. Kapler faced immediate scrutiny for lifting starter Aaron Nola with the Phillies up 5-0 and one out in the sixth inning. When Philly returned home after a season-opening 1-4 road trip, Kapler was booed resoundingly by Phillies fans.

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The 2019 Phillies became the third team ever to commit more than $400 million to free agents in a single offseason, but they finished 81-81.

YEAR TEAM FA $
2014 Yankees* $471M
2009 Yankees $441M
2019 Phillies* $401M
2008 Yankees* $396.15M
2019 Padres* $327.4M
* Didn’t make playoffs that season
A historic contract given to Harper and big trades for catcher J.T. Realmuto and infielder Jean Segura didn’t help much in 2019. Although the Phillies spent much of April and May in first place, a seven-game losing skid in June stalled any momentum. And while they stayed in the National League wild-card race, they lost eight of nine in late September and ultimately were eliminated from the postseason by Harper’s former team, the Nationals.

Injuries were a big reason the Phillies couldn’t record their first winning record since 2011. They lost leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen for the season in June, and six of their top seven relievers missed significant time. Free-agent addition David Robertson pitched just 6⅔ innings, and Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter threw a combined 23⅓ innings. Also, starting center fielder Odubel Herrera played just 39 games before he was suspended for the rest of the season under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

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The Phillies finished fourth in the NL East — 16 games behind the first-place Braves and eight games behind Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot. In 2018, the Phillies were third at 80-82, finishing 10 games behind the Braves.

“I want to thank Kap for his tireless commitment to the Phillies over the last two years,” Klentak said in a statement. “When we hired Kap, it was our goal to develop a positive, forward-thinking and collaborative culture throughout the organization that would allow us to compete with the best teams in the league year in and year out.

“While we have fallen short in the win column for the last two years, I can confidently say that Kap’s efforts have established a strong and sustainable foundation for this organization moving forward.”

Kapler, 44, hit .268 in 12 major league seasons as an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and four other clubs. Before managing the Phillies, he spent several years as the Dodgers’ director of player development.

Out of the gates, Kapler and the Phillies looked like they finally found success. Kapler led his squad to a 56-44 record through 100 games. They entered August in first place in the standings. But this is when things started to go awry.

The Phillies ended the 2018 season 21-34 from August to September, leaving them with and underwhelming 80-82 record and outside of the postseason.

However, Kapler still improved the team by 16 games, so the Phillies organization prepared themselves for an aggressive offseason in 2018. They signed prized free agent Bryce Harper to a record-breaking contract and acquired other valuable pieces like Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, Jean Segura, and J.T. Realmuto to solidify their rebuild.

Now, Kapler’s team looked like they could contend.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. While the Phillies started off decently in 2019, they hit a quick decline, highlighted by key injuries mixed with a lack of depth and poor managerial decision.

As a result, they finished in 4th place with 81-81 record, despite spending over $400 million in the offseason. They missed the postseason for the eighth straight season.

Thus, Kapler was ousted. The Phillies organization had no other choice than to move on from Kapler, who was the subject of widespread criticism from both the local and national media. While Kapler was certainly not the answer, the Phillies almost decade-long streak of failure has much deeper roots. Kapler was the third straight manager to be fired after only two seasons of work.

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The Philadelphia Phillies now have an expensive roster and a mess of a clubhouse. If they want to compete in 2020, it is in their best interest to completely clean out their coaching staff and start fresh with an experienced manager. Time will tell if the Phillies are ready to compete now, or if they are doomed for more failure in the near future.

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The Phillies roster will see another major shift this offseason with a new coaching staff looking to put their mark on the Phillies record.

After a disappointing season, the Phillies have appeared to have made a psychological change by firing Gabe Kapler and hiring Joe Girardi. The organization will continue to use analytics and evaluate players using new -school technology, but they will not overload players with as much information as Kapler and his staff did.
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Several of the players who struggled under the Kapler regime were the young players Philadelphia needed to take a step forward if they wanted to be a part of the next era of winning baseball. Some, if not all, of those players were either stagnant or took a major step back in 2019, and are unlikely to return in 2020.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has a directive to win now, and he has a history of pulling off multiple trades in an offseason.

Here are five players Klentak will likely trade this offseason to ensure the Phillies win in 2020.
Nick Williams

One of the last additions of the Ruben Amaro Jr. era was supposed to be a cornerstone for the Phillies. Nick Williams was projected to be a five-tool corner outfielder who’d hit in the middle of the Phillies lineup for the next decade.

Williams has had his opportunities in Philadelphia, getting nearly 800 plate appearances in his first two seasons. Despite hitting 17 home runs in 2018 Williams was surpassed on the depth chart by Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper. Philadelphia gave Williams opportunities off the bench in 2019, but he couldn’t produce given the limited at-bats.

Williams just turned 26-years-old and has potential that could be unlocked by the right coaching staff on a team not expected to win. His value is at an all-time low since he was traded to the Phillies in the Cole Hamels package, but Philadelphia might be able to get either a reliever or international bonus pool money.

Look for teams like the Orioles, Royals, or Tigers to kick the tires on Williams as a reclamation project.

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High School High Tech students at Port St. Joe High School had a fantastic time learning about career opportunities with music, sports, military, drones, dogs and more from local leaders.

Florida High School High Tech of Gulf County hosted a Career Fair for their students at Port St. Joe High School last week. The HSHT program is a career mentoring program facilitated by the Dyslexia Research Institute.

“Our goal is to expose our students to many varied career options to expand their possibilities,” said Dr. Patricia Hardman, director or Dyslexia Research Institute and HSHT.

During the Career Fair, nine businesses spent two hours with the students presenting information about their career field and answering questions. Students were able to spend 20 minutes or more with two of the businesses as well as listening to all of the presenters in their introduction.

The students learned about many varied careers from professional baseball outfielder, Roman Quinn, who plays for the Philadelphia Phillies. They heard about opportunities in the communications field and the development of drones with Skyborne Technologies, Mike Lawson presenting.

Students interested in nature and animals were treated to “Biscuits” a kitten brought by the staff of St. Joseph Bay Humane Society, Kylie Skoda and several others explain about careers with animals. Sophie Fonseca of the St. Joseph Buffer Preserve rounded out the nature lovers by explaining how a love of nature can transform into a career.

Those students interested in photography were treated to viewing Debbie Hooper’s portfolio and discussing ways to turn a hobby into a career. For our budding vocal artists, Lauren Springs, singer/songwriter explained the many different ways vocal artists work with each other to create art.

Heather Burris, a retired Air Force Pilot and now a reservist, talked about careers in the Air Force. Medical fields of study, particularly in the emergency medical field, were discussed by Houston Whitfield. And not forgetting the little guys, Vanesa Ryan from The Learning Center discussed careers in child care.

It was a busy and information packed day.

This is the 13th year that the Dyslexia Research Institute has facilitated the High School High Tech Club.

Students left the program excited about the possibilities in their future.

This program is funded by The Able Trust, Vocational Rehabilitation and The Alfred L. duPont Foundation. Robyn A. Rennick is the Activities Director. For more information call 527-4671.

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PITTSBURGH — Andrew McCutchen was sitting near the middle of a basketball court at the Kingsley Center last Thursday morning, talking to a room full of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders from nearby Lincoln Elementary School in the Larimer neighborhood of Pittsburgh. He was there to tell his story, to encourage the students to work hard and never give up on their dreams.

He told the children the story about how, when he was 12 years old living in Fort Meade, Fla., he was hoping to attend a baseball camp in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cost of travel was simply too much for his family to afford, but people in his community — from business owners to the family’s church — chipped in to raise the necessary money. With their help, McCutchen made it to the Roberto Clemente Camp after all.

On the surface, McCutchen was giving the students an idea of how he became a successful Major League Baseball star — with a lot of hard work and plenty of help along the way. And in a way, he was also explaining why he was sitting there in front of them in that gym, nearing the end of a week-long charitable blitz all around Pittsburgh.

“I’m giving because there were times I needed it for myself. My family needed the help,” McCutchen said. “We had a lot of help. If it wasn’t for the help, there’s no telling where we would be.

“For me, it only feels right to do the same thing: Help others who can’t help themselves and do it any way, shape or form that I can.”

McCutchen has displayed that giving spirit throughout his career, one of the reasons he won MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award in 2015. But there was one more question from Howard Slaughter, the president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh, as he sat next to McCutchen: Why here?

McCutchen didn’t miss a beat.

“’Cause I love Pittsburgh,” he said.

‘Project Pittsburgh’
McCutchen spent a full week, from Nov. 16 through Saturday, taking part in a series of charitable events around the city he still calls home. It was all part of “Project Pittsburgh,” a volunteer initiative created by McCutchen and his wife, Maria, to assist and promote nonprofit organizations in the area.

“Cutch Charity Week” was a busy one and, as McCutchen put it, a “hands-on” undertaking.

McCutchen helped high schoolers pick out clothes for job interviews during Senior Development Day at the South Hills Village Mall Macy’s store, served meals with the Light of Life Rescue Mission in the North Side, visited patients at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, read with kids at Carnegie Library, packaged supplies for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, spoke to students at the Kingsley Center, swung a hammer alongside Habitat for Humanity volunteers while remodeling a house in Larimer, delivered food with 412 Food Rescue and hosted a free baseball clinic for inner-city children.

“We’re hoping that it sheds a little bit of light on these organizations, what they’re about and what they’re doing,” McCutchen said. “Hopefully this continues, so whoever sees it can find ways to be able to give as well.”

McCutchen said he and Maria wanted to do something like this for a while, but it wasn’t so easy to organize over the last few years. They welcomed their first son, Steel, in November 2017. Then, suddenly, Pittsburgh was no longer McCutchen’s professional home. First came the January 2018 trade that sent McCutchen from the Pirates to the Giants, then another trade to the Yankees, then his first foray into free agency and then, finally, a three-year contract with the Phillies.

The McCutchens are expecting their second child, another boy, later this winter. But they decided the time was right to turn their brainstorming sessions into action. And they wanted to give back here in Pittsburgh, where they met, started their family and still reside in one of the city’s northern suburbs.

“We were ready. We were ready to get started, to work within the community,” McCutchen said. “No better place than where we live, being in Pittsburgh, to be able to give back to this city. … I haven’t been in the community, especially in Pittsburgh, the last few years. So just the hunger to want to do it and want to be a part of something like this, it’s something I really wanted to do.”

McCutchen could have just written a bunch of checks to charities, called it a day and spent the week at home with his son and pregnant wife. He did far more than that during “Cutch Charity Week.”

“Andrew’s support and help, just coming in and spending some time with us, it shows that he cares and that he’s committed,” Slaughter said. “Not everyone would be willing to come and roll up their sleeves and hammer nails and put up drywall and siding and things of that nature for somebody that they don’t know, for someone they may never know. That kind of work is sustaining, meaning that what we do today is going to benefit somebody for the next 40 or 50 years. That kind of impact is rare.”

McCutchen said it was important to see the programs in action and called it “eye-opening” to be a part of their daily work. He also set out to make “Project Pittsburgh” more of a grassroots movement than a photo opportunity, demonstrating just how many different ways people can get involved and help others within their community.

“I felt this was something I needed. There’s a lot of organizations that need a lot of help,” McCutchen said. “On top of that, it’s shedding light on all of these different organizations that you can work with — not just me and not just another athlete or celebrity, but the average person. … There’s all of these programs, all of these places where you can help, you can lend a helping hand, you can volunteer, you can donate. Just showing others that if you don’t necessarily know what you want to do, there are a lot of outlets where you can find something to do.”

Local connection
Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that McCutchen has worn three uniforms since he last donned his No. 22 jersey with the Pirates, because he was so inextricably linked to Pittsburgh from 2009-17. He was the face of the franchise, the National League’s Most Valuable Player and one of the Majors’ most recognizable stars when the Pirates snapped their 20-year streak and returned to the postseason in 2013.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember, though, simply because McCutchen is still so popular around here.

“People who aren’t from here, they wouldn’t realize it until they’re actually here. This city is unique,” McCutchen said. “They love their sports. They love their athletes. They love their celebrities. They don’t just treat you like an athlete. They treat you like a human being, like a person. It’s a very family-oriented place. It’s a big city, but it has a small-town feel to it. That’s the thing I love about it.”

When he visited the Habitat for Humanity home in Larimer, McCutchen found himself signing a block of wood, promising to autograph one volunteer’s hammer and talking on FaceTime with other volunteers’ family members. At a lunch with sponsors, he told a story about his first walk-off home run that left adults in the room as rapt as the kids were in the Kingsley Center gym — and that was a remarkably attentive group of elementary school students.

“For the kids today to see an athlete who lives in Pittsburgh, loves this community, comes back and spends time with the kids, they engage,” Slaughter said. “Those things will make a difference for those kids for the rest of their lives. They’ll remember today that they heard Andrew said, ‘You’ve got to work hard.’ They’ll remember Andrew saying not to give up. They’ll remember Andrew saying, ‘Yeah, I struck out over 100 times, but I hit a lot of home runs and made a lot of plays.’

“Those are the realistic kinds of things that we want to send a message to the kids about. We want them to know, no, it’s not always going to be easy, but you can overcome those obstacles if you keep working hard. That’s the kind of message Andrew can convey to kids, and they’ll remember that.”

Matt Davis, the manager of baseball and program development for the faith-based Urban Impact Foundation, came away from Saturday’s clinic with a similar impression. McCutchen provided free instruction for boys and girls who play baseball with Urban Impact, the Josh Gibson Foundation, the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) Pittsburgh Program and the Boys & Girls Club. The camp was divided up into eight stations run by McCutchen, local college players and coaches.

“When we were calling kids and telling them about this, his name is still, ‘Whoa! Yeah, let’s go! I’m interested and I want to hang out with Andrew McCutchen,’” Davis said. “He’s still a big deal here, and I think this city still really loves him. For him to come back is really exciting. … There’s not a ton of African-Americans playing the game of baseball right now. It’s really cool for them to see that and see him as a role model. ‘Hey, I can achieve that if I work hard.’

“He does such an awesome job with the kids, interacting with them and building relationships. It doesn’t take more than a smile, saying hi and, man, he’s in. He’s not just a celebrity baseball player; he’s really down-to-earth and does a great job talking to kids and getting to know them.”

The initial response to “Project Pittsburgh,” McCutchen said, was everything they had hoped for. They called for volunteers to sign up for each stop, and every volunteer position was filled. When those opportunities were taken, McCutchen said, people asked for another way they could give back.

“It’s been overwhelming and humbling at the same time,” McCutchen said. “This city and the people here, they’re amazing and they’re doing amazing things around the city just trying to make it a better place.”

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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Leading up to baseball’s winter meetings, we will take a daily look at some of the game’s top free agents and how they could potentially impact the Phillies.

Today: Mike Moustakas, a third baseman who’s been connected to the Phillies multiple times over the last two years and whose agent the Phillies have already touched base with this offseason.
The vitals

You know what you’re getting with Mike Moustakas: power, a .250ish batting average, an OPS about 10 percent above the league average and defense that won’t hurt you.

He’s not Top 5 at his position or even Top 10, but he’s a helpful player who can bat fifth or sixth and produce runs. Moustakas’ .845 OPS last season was 14th among qualifying third basemen, but it was 130 points higher than Maikel Franco’s. If the 2019 Phillies had Moustakas, they probably would have won a few more games.

Moustakas will play the 2020 season at age 31. His 101 home runs the last three seasons are 14th-most in the majors and fifth-most among third basemen. That list:

Nolan Arenado: 116
Eugenio Suarez: 109
Joey Gallo: 103
Manny Machado: 102
Mike Moustakas: 101
Why he fits

The Phillies need another productive everyday player at third base, shortstop or center field. Scott Kingery’s defensive flexibility allows the Phillies to pick from multiple position groups.

If the Phillies can add only one of Didi Gregorius or Moustakas, for example, they’d have to weigh whether Moustakas’ power or Gregorius’ all-around game is more beneficial to their infield.

For the Phillies, signing Moustakas to a two-year deal would allow them more time for Alec Bohm to develop (especially defensively) at Triple A. It would also buy the Phils an extra year to figure out whether Bohm can even play third base, whether Bohm may need to move to first base and make Rhys Hoskins expendable, or whether Bohm himself could be used as a trade chip.
Why he doesn’t fit

If you sign Moustakas to a two- or three-year deal, and Bohm does develop and force the issue, then what? Then you’ve created a problem for yourself and a need to trade somebody to make room on the infield corners.

In theory, it may sound like no big deal — if that happens, you can flip one of Hoskins, Bohm or Moustakas for a player at an area of need. But it doesn’t always work out that way. The league would see the Phillies’ need to make a deal and that would diminish some of the Phils’ leverage.

Moustakas’ age isn’t a big concern — at 31, he’s at the tail-end of his prime, and his next contract is unlikely to take him into his late-30s.
The price tag

Moustakas was forced to sign one-year deals each of the last two offseasons. He deserved better but the free-agent market isn’t always fair or linear.

Coming off a career-high 38 homers in 2017, Moustakas rejected the Royals’ qualifying offer of $15 million and ultimately had to settle for a one-year, $6.5 million deal to return to Kansas City.

Then Moustakas hit 28 homers and drove in 95 runs with a .774 OPS and had to settle for another one-year deal, this time for $10 million with Milwaukee ($3 million of which came in the form of a 2020 buyout from the Brewers).

This winter, Moustakas should finally find a multi-year deal. Something like two years, $24 million seems fair. Moustakas’ side (he’s represented by Scott Boras) will want more years, but teams will be hestitant to commit to his age-33 season. Moustakas still might get three years.

It will be interesting to see whether Moustakas or Josh Donaldson signs first. Both have incentive to let the other set the market. Donaldson was the better player in 2019 but Moustakas was the better and healthier player overall from 2017-19.
Scout’s take

“Fair defender. Power is solid, results are there. Limited athleticism. Threat in the middle of the lineup but the body gives concern for excessive years of commitment.”

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

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The Phillies returned Odubel Herrera to their active roster Thursday, but it remains unclear if the outfielder will play again for the team after being suspended 85 games last season because of his arrest after a domestic violence incident in Atlantic City.

Activating Herrera was a procedural move; his suspension ran through the end of the season. He now counts against the team’s 40-man roster, which must be trimmed by Monday from 43 to 40. The Phillies could try to trade Herrera this offseason, but the Phillies likely would have to pay most of his salary because it’s difficult to see another team taking on Herrera’s remaining $21 million.
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Phillies’ Odubel Herrera suspended for the remainder of the season after MLB wraps up investigation into domestic assault case

Herrera was charged with assault on Memorial Day after his girlfriend sought out security at the Golden Nugget casino and said she had been attacked in their hotel room. The police report said “handprint markings” were found on her neck, in addition to scratches. In July, she declined to press charges and the judge dismissed the case but said that decision was contingent upon Herrera’s completing counseling. He was suspended two days later by Major League Baseball and said in a statement that he “acted in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself.”

The Phillies could simply release Herrera, but the league’s collective bargaining agreement states that the transaction must be done for baseball reasons and not because of his suspension. The Phillies could point to the .216 batting average and .632 OPS Herrera posted in 539 plate appearances over his final calendar year, before his suspension, as a baseball reason. Before being suspended, Herrera already had played himself out of a starting role.
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“He comes to spring training and we’ll see where his talents and abilities take him from there,” president Andy MacPhail said in July. “We’ll see what he’s stacked up against. Right now, we have [Andrew] McCutchen and [Jay] Bruce. We have [Adam] Haseley. We have [Roman] Quinn. We have [Bryce] Harper. It’s a crowded outfield. So we’ll have to see how he performs on the field.”

Eight players — Sean Rodriguez, Tommy Hunter, Logan Morrison, Juan Nicasio, Brad Miller, Nick Vincent, Corey Dickerson, and Drew Smyly — elected free agency Thursday, which brought the 40-man roster down to 44 players after relief pitcher Robert Stock was claimed off waivers from San Diego. It lowered to 43 players Friday when Jose Pirela, who will play in Japan, was released.
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The Phillies will decline Pat Neshek’s $7 million option for 2020, but they have yet to announce their plans on the options for Jason Vargas ($8 million) and Jared Hughes ($3 million). Declining all three options would bring the Phillies to 40 players.

The heavier lifting will come Dec. 2, the deadline for the Phillies to decide if they will tender contracts to players such as Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez as they set their 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft.

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Pat Borders will return as manager of the Williamsport Crosscutters for the 2020 season, the team confirmed Monday. It will be the former World Series MVP’s sixth season at the helm of the Cutters, the longest tenure of any manager in franchise history.

Borders is scheduled to be in Williamsport on Jan. 15 for the Crosscutters’ annual Hot Stove Banquet. He will be appearing at the event along with ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian and former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Greg Luzinski Kurkjian is returning to the banquet for a second consecutive season.

No other member of the Cutters’ coaching staff has been announced.

In five seasons leading the Philadelphia Phillies’ short-season Class A affiliate, Borders has accumulated a 191-185 record and is the franchise’s career leader in managerial wins. In 2019, Williamsport finished 32-43, but was tied for the league’s best record over the season’s final 38 games. The Cutters also finished third in the league in team ERA.

Five former Cutters under the tutelage of Borders have gone on to play Major League Baseball — Adam Haseley, Seranthony Dominguez, Cole Irvin, Ranger Suarez and Jacob Waguespack.

In his first season with Williamsport in 2015, he guided the Crosscutters to the league’s best regular-season record and a Pinckney Division championship. His 46-30 mark that season is the third-best record in club history. It was the team’s first division title since 2001.

Bryce Harper Jersey

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It’s irresistible to wonder how Harper’s absence contributed to the Nationals’ World Series run and how he felt when they won Game 7. But perhaps his former team’s success liberates him from having to be a villain.
By Katie Baker Oct 31, 2019, 6:25pm EDT
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Bryce Harper always makes things too easy, which is why it’s so hard to look away from the guy. He is easy to love and easy to loathe and easy to watch play and extremely easy to project oneself upon. He is a modern athlete but a timeless human. As a kid, he already played baseball with the simple mastery of a big leaguer; as a big leaguer, he still sometimes carries himself with the earnest wretchedness of a teen. When he’s happy, he preens; when he’s not, he sulks; when he speaks, he misspeaks; and when he connects with the baseball in the right way, everything else—just for that instant—is forgotten, because did you see that? And then he does a Fortnite dance or whatever, as he did when he hit a double for the Philadelphia Phillies in his first return to his former team in Washington D.C. and reacted with a smirking wave, and then everything is remembered again.
From the contours of his hair to the sweep of his career, Harper is a walking broad brushstroke: the wannabe hero, the natural villain, the guy who left a team that immediately went on to win the freaking World Series. On the surface, he is not only a new example of the decades-old Ewing Theory—an archetypical framework once developed by Bill Simmons’s buddy Dave Cirilli that suggested teams can actually benefit from losing their top player—but perhaps even more of a manifestation of the idea than Patrick Ewing himself. (After all, even the Ewingless Knicks couldn’t take home a trophy.)

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The Nationals Spent Big and Won the World Series. Will Other Teams Follow Suit?
The Nationals’ World Series Win Was More Than a Decade in the Making. It’s Also a Window Into Their Future.
The Astros Should Remain Contenders With or Without Gerrit Cole—for Now

“I can’t wait to bring the title back to D.C.,” Harper accidentally said this spring during his introductory press conference in Philadelphia, where he had signed a $330 million free agent contract that lasts through 2032. This botched, cursed wish was granted: This season, Harper’s Phillies not only did not make the playoffs, they instead struggled so badly that coach Gabe Kapler, only in his second year, got the boot. Meanwhile, the Nationals not only did not lose in the first round of the postseason, as they historically always have, they instead won a title for the first time in franchise history on Wednesday night, in a Game 7, less than a year after losing their biggest-name player.

The tenets of the Ewing Theory are twofold: (1) “A star athlete receives an inordinate amount of media attention and fan interest,”—check!—“and yet his teams never win anything substantial with him (other than maybe some early-round playoff series).” Check, and the parenthetical isn’t even needed! A little bit trickier, however, is (2): “That same athlete leaves his team (either by injury, trade, graduation, free agency, or retirement)—and both the media and fans immediately write off the team for the following season.” That wasn’t quite the case with the Nationals.
From the contours of his hair to the sweep of his career, Harper is a walking broad brushstroke: the wannabe hero, the natural villain, the guy who left a team that immediately went on to win the freaking World Series. On the surface, he is not only a new example of the decades-old Ewing Theory—an archetypical framework once developed by Bill Simmons’s buddy Dave Cirilli that suggested teams can actually benefit from losing their top player—but perhaps even more of a manifestation of the idea than Patrick Ewing himself. (After all, even the Ewingless Knicks couldn’t take home a trophy.)

Related
The Nationals Spent Big and Won the World Series. Will Other Teams Follow Suit?
The Nationals’ World Series Win Was More Than a Decade in the Making. It’s Also a Window Into Their Future.
The Astros Should Remain Contenders With or Without Gerrit Cole—for Now

“I can’t wait to bring the title back to D.C.,” Harper accidentally said this spring during his introductory press conference in Philadelphia, where he had signed a $330 million free agent contract that lasts through 2032. This botched, cursed wish was granted: This season, Harper’s Phillies not only did not make the playoffs, they instead struggled so badly that coach Gabe Kapler, only in his second year, got the boot. Meanwhile, the Nationals not only did not lose in the first round of the postseason, as they historically always have, they instead won a title for the first time in franchise history on Wednesday night, in a Game 7, less than a year after losing their biggest-name player.

The tenets of the Ewing Theory are twofold: (1) “A star athlete receives an inordinate amount of media attention and fan interest,”—check!—“and yet his teams never win anything substantial with him (other than maybe some early-round playoff series).” Check, and the parenthetical isn’t even needed! A little bit trickier, however, is (2): “That same athlete leaves his team (either by injury, trade, graduation, free agency, or retirement)—and both the media and fans immediately write off the team for the following season.” That wasn’t quite the case with the Nationals.
Harper may have been the most well-known baseball player in Washington, but whether he was the best player on his team is a point of dispute; in the seven years he spent in Washington, he only led the team in WAR once, in 2015. (Anthony Rendon and Max Scherzer each posted the top WAR twice during that span.) And going into this season, it wasn’t really a fringe belief to think that the Nationals would be fine without Harper; plenty of baseball analysts looked at the team’s mix of promising youth like Juan Soto and their new acquisitions like pitcher Patrick Corbin and felt the team had the weapons to move on quickly. Recently, Harper himself retroactively made this same point.

In mid-October, speaking with The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, Harper pointed out that the Nationals’ situation was, in his words, “kind of the perfect storm.” Their outfield trio of Soto, Victor Robles, and Adam Eaton cost collectively less than $10 million this season. The financial flexibility they obtained by failing to keep Harper allowed them to go after better pitching. Reading about Harper going on in this way was a reminder that he is not just a baseball player; he’s also a baseball mind, and a baseball nerd, and a baseball fan, not unlike so many of the passionate people who were out there in their doctored Harper protest jerseys, booing their former favorite into oblivion, because he continued to make it so easy to do.
In his interview with Harper, Stark asked the question that pretty much everyone has been thinking since the Nationals turned their season around after a slow start and began their championship ascent: How does it feel to watch, in absentia, while his former team thrives? “Jealousy isn’t good,” Harper said (maybe too?) quickly, adding that both he and the Nationals had made their decisions, and that he had made the right one for his growing family, and that being in Philadelphia had “made me love the game of baseball more than I ever have.”

That last part stuck out a bit, though, because loving the game of baseball has never seemed like an area in which Harper has been deficient. If anything, it has felt like the opposite. For years, Harper’s lifelong obsession with the sport has sucked all the air out of the room, making him come across more like a persona than a person, as more of an avatar than an athlete. There has always been a genuine purity to Harper’s competitive spirit, but this makes him particularly susceptible to being considered a tortured soul. As a reporter (speaking of tortured souls) who wrote about Harper during spring training, I thought I’d be in for some dramatics or at least some bro-ing of clown questions. But he wasn’t playing a caricature; he was just being himself. The only clowning in sight was the laughter of Harper and his new Phillies teammates around the clubhouse breakfast table.

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Washington, D.C., Takes a Joyous Turn in the Winner’s Circle
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Stephen Strasburg May Have Just Pitched His Last Game As a National—and Become a Playoff Legend

Still, as a Mets fan (speaking of tortured souls), I not only understand the base and basic gut reaction to Harper; I have lived it, even as I objectively know better. It’s possible that the Ewing Theory has endured all these years not because it is about teams or the WAR of athletes who leave them, but because it is about the fans who remain: fans who are petty and loyal and overly invested, fans who are walking contradictions just like Harper himself, fans whose lives are filled with daily indignities and embarrassing jealousies and who seek escape by contemplating the social chaos of others. It’s an act of self-preservation to view Harper in Ewing Theory terms, to relish in the idea of addition by subtraction, to wonder how it must feel to be him, to guess that it must really suck. It turns out a World Series win by a divisional rival can be palatable, even delicious, when it happens right in the face of a longtime pesky adversary like him, a total villain like him.

Take off the NL East goggles, however, and Harper-as-villain doesn’t quite check out. At any rate, the more intriguing Ewing Theory candidate is Harper-as-self-aware. He knows Nationals fans are derisively duct-taping their old Harper jerseys. He hears the boos from Nats and Phillies fans alike. He remembers with clarity every at-bat in Washington that could have ended triumphantly and then didn’t. (He rattled off a list of them to Stark.) He’s not one of those athletes who insists, truthfully or not, that they don’t watch the playoffs if they’re not in it; he is proud to say that he scrutinized every second. He also has a competent new manager in Joe Girardi going into next season, and maybe even something that he’s never had before in his baseball career: a weight off his back.

I have no doubt Harper is being completely honest when he says he was thrilled for his former Nationals teammates throughout their championship run. I also have no doubt that he wishes he could be completely honest when he says that he didn’t envy them. What human wouldn’t? But there I go again, projecting my emotions onto Harper, pretending I have any idea what it feels like to be him, this enraging and engaging star professional athlete who continues to be so easy to judge and so impossible to resist.

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Jay Bruce loves to hit, and he loves to talk hitting. He’s good at both. The veteran outfielder has a well-earned reputation for being thoughtful and engaging, and the numbers he’s put up over 12 big-league seasons speak for themselves. Bruce has 649 extra-base hits in 6,500 career plate appearances, including 312 home runs.

A first-round pick by the Reds in 2005, Bruce debuted three years later as a 21-year-old and went on to spend eight-plus season in a Cincinnati uniform. The native of Beaumont, Texas has since bounced around, hopscotching from the Mets to the Indians, back to the Mets, from there to the Mariners, and last summer to the Phillies. At age 32, he’ll head into 2020 in the final year of his current contract.

Bruce sat down to talk hitting when the Phillies visited Fenway Park in mid-September.
———

David Laurila: How have you evolved as a hitter over the years?

Jay Bruce: “As I’ve gotten older and more experienced, a lot has happened in the game in terms of information and hitting philosophy. Numbers have started being attached to thoughts, or assumptions. I definitely pay attention to that. But I wouldn’t say I’m of the launch-angle revolution, or whatever you care to call it. I’ve always hit the ball in the air. I have a problem with hitting the ball on the ground.

“If your fly balls are your misses, that can cause some BABIP issues — there are issues that could potentially zap parts of your game. But if you have power, and are hitting the ball in the air, you’re giving yourself more opportunities to produce a positive outcome. That should be obvious.

“The thing I probably do the most is pull the ball in the air, and that’s one of the, if not the most, successful ways to hit a ball. So for me… I think the outside philosophy of hitting has changed a little bit. When I came up, you were taught to use the other side of the field. Stay up the middle. Even hit the ball on the ground sometimes.”

Laurila: Evan Longoria told me earlier this season that groundballs up the middle aren’t hits anymore.

Bruce: “They’re not. That’s completely changed. I can smoke balls as hard as I want up the middle, and it’s an out. Every single time. There will be someone standing right behind second base, so… the numbers have changed with the shift, and the hitting philosophy has changed for a lot of people because of the shift. You hear a lot of stories about guys who have changed the paths of their careers by buying into launch angle, and swing path. For me, that’s just not the case. Not one time in my career have I ever set out to change my swing path, or my launch angle.”

Laurila: Are there things you have changed?

Bruce: “I’ve changed my stance a little bit, here and there. When I was younger, I stood a lot taller. In 2016, I got more into my legs. And really, this year I started standing taller again. That’s partly because pitchers are pitching differently now. You have to be able to extract the most athleticism out of yourself that you can, in the box. Especially these days. Pitchers are pitching up more.”

Laurila: That’s been the case for a few years now, has it not?

Bruce: “Yes, but it’s really taken off. Velocity is also up more than it’s ever been. And while I’m not sure what the numbers are, it feels like there’s more breaking stuff. Nowadays, pitching is a little less precise, and more about stuff.

“Everyone talks about the doctored baseballs. I don’t know, one way or the other, if that’s true or false. But I do know that higher velocity, and lesser-quality pitches in the zone, are going to create better outcomes when it comes to the power department. So while everybody is getting caught up on the balls being juiced, we also need to look at what type of pitches are being thrown, and where they’re being thrown. Higher velocity is going to produce more exit velocity. In my opinion, anyway. I’m not a scientist.”

Laurila: How is standing more upright helpful to you?

Bruce: “I feel that it’s harder for me to get to the pitches that are farther up in the zone if I’m more cropped in my legs. Especially as I’ve gotten a little older. The athleticism I have — and I’m not calling myself one of the best athletes in the game, not by any means — needs to be optimized to allow my swing to work the best it can. I need to be able to ‘counter-punch’ the opposition, so to speak. Again, guys are pitching with higher velocities, up in the zone.”

Laurila: Do you want to swing at elevated fastballs, or is that a pitch you’re better off letting go?

Bruce: “The short answer is ‘no’ — it’s a very hard pitch to hit when it’s where it’s supposed to be — but there’s also a fine line. If it’s two balls lower than where they want to throw it, that’s a great pitch to hit. I want to have as many options as I can. I don’t want to be one-dimensional when it comes to the types of pitches I can hit.”

Laurila: Are you always taking the same swing, regardless of the pitcher or the location?

Bruce: “The same swing, yes. A swing, in general, is very hard to master. But with two strikes, my thought process changes a little bit. I’ll choke up. I’ll focus on letting the ball get a little deeper. Regardless of the idea that strikeouts don’t matter, they matter to me. I had a tough time [in 2018], but one of the silver linings is that I had one of the highest walks rates, and one of the lowest strikeout rates, of my career.

“If I can be around that 20% range, that’s going to lead to some success. I’ve never been a guy who strikes out 27-28% of the time, but I have been in that 23-24% range. It’s not something I’m proud of. I definitely don’t think it’s a make-or-break thing. You can strike out a lot and still be successful. I won a Silver Slugger striking out 185 times. But the way my swing works, and the way my talent plays… I don’t feel that I have to sacrifice quality of contact.”

Laurila: The way you view strikeouts has changed somewhat…

Bruce: “I’d say that I understand more clearly how I should go about making contact more often. When I was younger, my goal was to just not strike out. That’s not going to work.

“My whole career, I’ve wanted to strike out less. It’s been, ‘What can I do to strike out less?’ Well, I feel that when I started focusing less on striking out less, and more about ending at-bats when they should be ended, it got better. When I get a good pitch to hit, I need to have a swing ready to put that pitch in play, with quality. That’s when the at-bat needs to be over. Fouling it off, or missing it, is how you get to worse counts, and to statistically less-successful outcomes.”

Laurila: Does striking out less require having more than just an A-swing? There are going to be plate appearances where none of the strikes you see are good pitches to hit.

Bruce: “To me, the question would be, ‘What is an A-swing?’ What I tell myself is that the swing I practice in the cage is the swing I want to take to the game. A lot of times, what changes the swing you take from practice to the game is adrenaline. Being a competitor, being a baseball player, when you get to a 2-0 count, you want to crush the ball. You want to hit one to the f-ing moon, so you take too big of a swing and foul the ball off. What I want to do is practice a swing that is repeatable, and under control. You’re right about at-bats. You get good pitches here and there, but after seeing that pitch, it’s not often that you get too many more.”

Laurila: Being neither a top-shelf athlete, nor someone with elite bat-to-ball skills, you need to hit home runs to provide value. Is that accurate?

Bruce: “There wouldn’t be a lot of use for me, especially if I’m not getting on base at an above-average, or elite, clip. Over my career, I’ve basically been a league-average on-base guy. That and above average in slugging. You could ask 20 people whether they thought run-producers are a thing, or not a thing, and depending on when they were born, you’ll probably get a different answer. Coming up, I was taught that there was value in being a run producer — driving in runs, hitting for power, being an impact bat in the middle of a lineup.

“So, yeah. I have to hit for power. Period. Obviously, the way game is evolving, there’s more of a premium being put on defense, and on value that can be derived from other parts of the game. But I think that however you slice it, the most important part of the game is always going to be offense. That’s when it comes to non-pitchers.”

Laurila: When did you start choking up with two strikes?

Bruce: “Probably in… 2015? And there are times I’ll actually choke up for the whole at-bat, depending on who I’m facing, how I’m feeling, and things like that.”

Laurila: Is that a Joey Votto influence?

Bruce: “Yeah. There was some of that.”

Laurila: You’ve probably been asked about Votto a thousand times…

Bruce: “I never mind being asked about him. He’s one of the best, if not the best, hitter I’ve ever come across. His numbers, and his level of success, speak for themselves. But yeah, there was some influence there. It’s not something where he was like, ‘Hey, you should choke up.’ That’s not how he goes about things. He’s an open book when it comes to talking hitting, but he’s… I’ll put it this way: If Joey Votto is choking up, then Jay Bruce can choke up.

“Even if it doesn’t help me physically, mentally it’s a little check point within that at-bat. It kind of gets me into that mode of, ‘Hey, let the ball get a little deeper, and actually see the ball.’ I know everyone says ‘see the ball,’ but for me, when I get to two strikes, that’s what it is. ‘See the ball.’

“I’ve hit a lot of home runs with two strikes, sometimes while choking up. I’m not so much letting the ball get deep as I’m thinking, ‘Let it get deep.’ I haven’t seen my power go down while choking up.”

Laurila: As prolific as he is, Votto has been accused of not being enough of a run-producer.

Bruce: “He’s dealt with that a lot in Cincinnati.”

Laurila: Is that fair?

Bruce: “No. Joey is an elite hitter. I mean, you talk to some people who think his thought process is a little flawed. It’s ‘Hey, he’s the best hitter on the team, so he should be driving in more runs.’ Blah, blah, blah. But how can you argue with… I mean, this guy has led the league in on-base percentage seven or eight times. And when I say, ‘led the league,’ I mean by like 40 points. It’s not even close.

“That’s the name of the game. Right? At the end of the day, it’s about not making outs. Not making an out is the best thing you can do, and Joey has been the best at not making outs for essentially his whole career.

“Watching him is something I’ll always appreciate. I don’t take that for granted. But we’re different. My bread and butter is derived from power. Period. Do I wish that I was able to hit for power, and also get on base at an elite clip? Of course. I’ve done things to try to improve certain facets of my game, but at the end of the day, you are what you are.”

Laurila: Are you and Bryce Harper similar hitters?

Bruce: “I think our power profiles are probably close. He’s clearly a better hitter than me, though. He’s better at not making outs. Maybe not to Joey’s level, but more so than I am.”

Laurila: What about in terms of approach and mechanics?

Bruce: “I’d say we’re similar there, although when it comes to mechanics, Rhys Hoskins is more similar to me. Bryce is a torque-y, powerful hitter. I’m more contact point and leverage. I don’t feel like I’m ever swinging as hard as Bryce is swinging. He’s more rotational, while I’m more directional and wrist-y.

“Rhys never looks like he’s swinging hard, but the ball still goes out. I’d say I’m more in that realm. But as far as the product of balls off the bat, Bryce and I are similar, for sure. Again, both of those guys, Rhys and Bryce, are much better at getting on base than I’ve ever been.

“Now, can you have… there’s space in the game for a lot of different players. I feel I can be an impact hitter on a championship-style team, because teams like that are sequenced correctly. You have guys who get on base, and you have guys who drive them in. You find a way to stretch the lineup, and make it work.”

Laurila: You signed out high school in 2005. Who is most responsible for you being the hitter you are today?

Bruce: “When I came up — we touched on this earlier — it was hammered into me that I had to hit the ball the other way, had to hit the ball the other way, had to hit the ball the other way. I believe there’s a fine line between hitting the ball the other way, and taking your best swing, over and over again. My best swing is simply not to the opposite field. I have power to left-center, but my success comes more to right-center.

“I’ve had a lot of great hitting coaches throughout my career. Alonzo Powell was probably the first person to teach me about a routine, a plan. That was in Low-A, when I was 19 years old, and it really stuck with me. Not his specific plan, but having one, and being committed to it. Back then, I was just a kid. Before that, there wasn’t much thought involved. I was just hitting. I needed to understand what it took to groove a swing, groove an approach, and practice it with intent every day.

“I really learned how to work, and prepare, from Joey, and from Scott Rolen. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the time I got to spend with them. And Dusty Baker was great. He was a big RBI guy. He taught me a lot about what it takes to drive runs in. Brook Jacoby, Don Long, Kevin Long… all of these guys helped me. Kevin Long kind of got me back on track when I got to New York. He helped me use my legs a little more. Pat Roessler was good, too.

“But really, the person who is most responsible for the hitter I am, is me. I came up as a very young player who’d had a lot of success in the minors. I’d never struggled until I got to the major leagues. I had a lot of fact-finding missions, where I had to figure out things on my own. I’ve had to evolve as the game has evolved.”

Laurila: As we touched on earlier, hitting analytics haven’t changed you, but they have impacted the way you think.

Bruce: “They have. I’m a big believer in analytics. I really am. They tell a story. I feel there needs to be a marriage between the eye test — the old-school thought process — and the information that’s coming in. I’m an advocate of gathering information and using it to make myself better. That said, you can’t just take information and mold yourself into a player you thought up in your head. For the most part, you are the player that you are. But you can become more efficient. You can use what you have, better. That’s what I’m trying to do at this stage of my career.”
——

Earlier “Talks Hitting” interviews can found through these links: Nolan Arenado, Aaron Bates, Cavan Biggio, Matt Chapman, Nelson Cruz, Paul DeJong, Rick Eckstein, Drew Ferguson, Joey Gallo, Mitch Haniger, Evan Longoria, Michael Lorenzen, Daniel Murphy, Fernando Tatis Jr., Justin Turner, Mark Trumbo, Luke Voit, Jesse Winker.

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Leading up to baseball’s winter meetings, we will take a daily look at some of the game’s top free agents and how they could potentially impact the Phillies.

Our Phillies free-agent targets series continues today with Didi Gregorius, who has been connected to the Phils in recent days.
The vitals

Gregorius is a solid defensive shortstop who can hit for power and for average. From 2016-18 with the Yankees, he averaged 24 homers per season and hit .277 with an OPS eight percent above the league average.

He did benefit from the short porch at Yankee Stadium, but that short porch can work both ways, also playing tricks on homer-happy hitters. It stands to reason that in another park, Gregorius’ batting average and doubles would increase while the homer total would decrease slightly.

Gregorius will play the 2020 season at age 30. He underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2018 and missed half the season in 2019. He hit just .207 with a .250 on-base percentage after Aug. 1, but he did go 4 for 10 with a homer and six RBI in the ALDS win over the Twins.
Why he fits

The Phillies need a better defensive shortstop with more range. Jean Segura committed 20 errors last season, but beyond that, his waistline grew throughout the summer and it wasn’t a defensive season that could have inspired much confidence from the Phillies as he ages.

Gregorius is the best shortstop on the market. He could push Segura over to second base, thereby creating an everyday spot for Scott Kingery at either third base or center field. For all the hand-wringing the last two years at the Phillies’ use of Kingery all over the diamond, Kingery’s flexibility has created flexibility for the Phillies, who are not boxed in to upgrading a specific position.

Signing Gregorius could also make Segura a trade candidate, but how much value would the Phillies get for him? Segura has approximately $43 million remaining over the final three years of his contract and is coming off his worst season in five years. In this scenario, it probably would make more sense for the Phillies to hold on to Segura in hopes that he rebounds to hit over .300 as he did each season from 2016-18.

Gregorius’ left-handed bat would help balance out a Phillies lineup that has Bryce Harper but no other lefty power threat currently projected to start.
Why he doesn’t fit

Do the Phillies really need to sign a shortstop? Even if they’re skeptical Segura can handle the position moving forward, they could simply move Kingery to shortstop and find another starter to play third base or center field.

Josh Donaldson, for example, is a better hitter than Gregorius. Offensively, the Phillies would probably be better off (at least in 2020) with Donaldson at third and Kingery at short than with Gregorius at short and Kingery at third.

Mike Moustakas? The Moustakas vs. Didi comparison is pretty close, with Moustakas providing more power and less of an injury history and Didi holding the advantage in speed and athleticism.

There aren’t many worthwhile free-agent options in center field, the Phillies’ other position of need. Thus, you’d figure the position player upgrade will come at either third base or shortstop.
Scout’s take

“He’s a leader on and off the field and a quality player offensively and defensively. He looked more and more healthy as the season went on and his arm was almost back to full strength.”

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

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Make way MLB offseason, it’s officially wedding season — at least it is for Rhys Hoskins and long-term girlfriend Jayme Bermudez.

Saturday Nov. 9, the two tied the knot in front of family, friends and loved ones at the Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe.

It was revealed last week that teammate Scott Kingery was in the wedding party with quite the fun post, but it looks like he changed up his attire for the big day.

And I’m not going to lie, that #DropItLikeItsHos hashtag is now ranked in the top-five most creative weddings tags I’ve seen.

Of course a congratulations is in order for the newlyweds but there’s still one question remaining … their dog Rookie was the ring bearer so … where are those pictures? I’ll be waiting simply because … well, who can pass up a dog in a tux?